Being Outdoors, December 2022

Well we’ve made it to the final month of the year and the shortest days are upon us again. Snow is beginning to take hold in the mountains and we’re looking forward to snowshoe season. And yes, that means we still haven’t used those shiny new snowshoes that we bought last month, which means we could’ve saved ourselves a tidy sum had we waited and bought them in the Black Friday sales…. Oh well.

If we were being outdoors today I’d express surprise that we got out for a lovely sunny hike on every weekend in November. November! In Vancouver! Most years we’re lucky if we get in two or three hikes. Usually the darkest, wettest, and generally most dismal month of the year, November often makes people question why they live here, especially in the aftermath of a long dry autumn such as the one we just had. What a great month to have your birthday in, eh? But this November has proved to be quite the exception and I’ve maintained my twice-weekly bike rides into the office, mostly without getting wet too. We supplemented our hikes with walks in Stanley Park and on the beaches. I even managed to publish a blog post!

If we were being outdoors today, I’d start by talking about our hike in the Brothers Creek area in West Vancouver, one of our favourite forest hikes with its giant cedars that evaded the loggers axe and saw. We chose the hike based on the weather, which was due to be dull and cloudy but the sun broke through and we enjoyed a sunny walk through snowy forest. We even had a sunny lunch spot, standing in the snow next to Blue Gentian Lake, snow that had some very fresh bear tracks in it! That was a lovely start to the month’s hiking.

If we were being outdoors today, I’d follow up with our hike around Brohm Lake near Squamish, a peaceful few hours of gentle wandering through autumnal forest and taking in a couple of spectacular viewpoints of the dramatic Tantalus mountain range. We could see salmon in the Cheakamus River far below while bald eagles and ravens soared overhead.

If we were being outdoors today, you’d probably laugh at my hissy fit about having to pay $3* per hour to park in Lions Bay. We had planned to hike to Tunnel Bluffs, only to find that there is no longer any free parking anywhere in the village. Lions Bay has long been at best indifferent – and often hostile – to visiting hikers and the municipality installed parking meters at the trailhead of the popular hike to the Lions. I had naively assumed that those meters had only been installed at the trailhead, and the parking by the school remained free. Not so. I was so incensed by this that I refused to pay (especially as the likely $15 or so would have been shared between us and one other friend). So we chose a different destination instead, and had a fabulous day out in Squamish instead hiking the Slhanay trail to a wonderful little viewpoint with a unique view of the Chief. We even had a bench to sit on – how civilized!

*Turns out it’s actually $2 per hour. That’s a bit more affordable and probably wouldn’t have provoked such outrage had I bothered to check…. 😄

If we were being outdoors today, I’d go on about how much I enjoyed a snowy hike with friends to Hollyburn, a summit I’ve visited over 40 times since 2005. Naturally, I don’t get as excited about hiking this trail as I used to, but this day turned out to be a wonderfully peaceful trip, exploring some of the cross-country ski trails that we don’t normally get to visit, and enjoying some fresh powder and gorgeous sunny views at the summit.

If we were being outdoors today, I’d want to tell you all about the local salmon run that happened this year. The beach at Spanish Banks has a small creek that flows through a ravine cut into the glacial deposits of Pacific Spirit Park and out to the sea. It’s a rarity in Vancouver as most creeks have been buried or otherwise forced to drain through culverts. A few years ago, the stream had its salmon run rejuvenated, and we had seen the occasional salmon here at spawning time over the years. But never more than one or two. This year was different. I counted over 30 salmon in the creek at one point – admittedly, most of them had expired but it made me so happy to see even this number of salmon here. I couldn’t resist checking in on them on my bike rides into work. I had promised myself that I’d seek out a salmon run this year; little did I know that one would show up on my doorstep!

And so what of December? We shall see. We are looking forward to getting out in the snow again, and are steeling ourselves for the requisite early mornings to beat the crowds. Plus it’ll soon be time to celebrate the Winter Solstice and welcome the lengthening days back again. Until then, I hope you have a great month!

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